Updated: Mar 31
Congratulations to Hannah Engel for winning our Young Writer Award for the Truth Universally Re-Acknowledged Creative Writing Contest, held in partnership with Chapel Hill Public Library. Hannah is an eighth grade student at Smith Middle School. She loves reading, writing, and especially, history. She brought her interests to light with this charming spy adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which you can read below.
Hannah has won free admission to this year's Jane Austen Summer Program, as well as a grab bag of goodies from Chapel Hill Public Library.
Etiquette and Infiltration
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
It is also a truth universally acknowledged that a spy’s best asset is a husband on the inside. “My dear Mr. Bennet,”said Mrs. Bennet to him one day, “have you heard that he has returned at last?” Mr. Bennet replied, “I had not.”
"But he has," returned she; "for Liam O’Connor has just sent a letter, and he told me all about it." Mr. Bennet made no answer.
"Do you not want to, finally, know who he is?" cried his wife impatiently.
"Of course I do, as I cannot hope to guess."
"Mr. O'Connor says that Netherfield manor is taken by a young lord of great power; that he returned on Monday, immediately after his stay at the palace, where he oversaw the recent military efforts in Ireland; that he is to stay for only the next month, as he will then return to the palace." "What is his name?"
"Why must he return to the palace?"
"That is what we must find out."
"Is he married or single?" "Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of much influence; with four or five thousand a year, a title, and a position at Court! Why, of course, our daughters must meet him!" "How so? How might they be of assistance?"
"My dear Mr. Bennet," replied his wife, "how can you be so tiresome! You must know that our best chance to find the information is by his marrying one of them." "Was that Mr. O'Connor’s design in moving us here?" "But, of course!” she replied, in a tone implying the clarity of the situation, “You must know that! If we make haste, it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes." "Oh, I am not sure. He may become suspicious if we visit so soon after his arrival. Perhaps we should hesitateto call on him for another week." "My dear, we surely cannot do that! With only a month to accomplish our mission, we must not dawdle. Our home of Ireland is at stake! We cannot sit back and allow our people to be controlled by the king." "Mrs. Bennet,I am not sure we are approaching this in the proper way. Must marriage be the only option?" "But, my dear, you must indeed realize that a young man seeks only two things: power, and a wife. You must go and see Mr. Bingley promptly, if only for the fate of the country you love.” "I cannot agree now, there is too much to consider.One of our daughters might be wed to a complete stranger. And an Englishman at that!" "Oh, my dear, be positive: one of our daughters will be wed to a complete stranger and Englishman, God willing. Think what an establishment it would be for one of them, and the information they would have access to, not to mention the close connections with foremost political figures. This is our opportunity to finally move the plan along, after so many failed attempts. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him if you do not." "I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chooses of the girls; though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy." "I desire you will do no such thing, and neither will the organization, especially Mr. O'Connor! Lizzy is competent, yes, but not a bit better than the others; we know not whether she is skilled at collecting information, or even at forming connections with such an exclusive class, to say nothing of other qualities she is lacking. I am sure she is not half so handsomeas Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia. But you are always giving her the preference."
"They have none of them much to recommend them," replied he; "they are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters."
"Mr. Bennet, how can you be so blinded by wit, when this mission is so much more than any other before? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves."
"You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at least."
"Ah, you do not know what I suffer."
"But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of prestige, prosperity and power come into the neighbourhood to marry our daughters."
"It will be no use to us, if more such should come, since you refuse to think first of our reason for being here, in this horrid country."
"Depend upon it, my dear, that when the time comes of hordes of such men arriving, I shall consider visiting them all."
Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of keen understanding and precise information, but uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters involved in the organization; its solacewas imagining the results of their efforts.